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Olympia Binewski did not grow up like other girls. For one, her parents were the owners of a traveling carnival. Lil and Al Binewski came up with a scheme to breed their own freak show, experimenting with a cocktail of drugs to create their perfect children. There's Oly herself, an albino hunchback dwarf; her brother Arty, who has flippers instead of human limbs and a sociopathic personality; her sisters Elly and Iphy, who are Conjoined Twins, and the youngest, Chick, who appears outwardly normal but has strange telepathic powers.
Then things start to get downright disturbing. Very disturbing. Suffice it to say, this is not a book for anyone except those with the strongest of stomachs.
Geek Love, written by Katherine Dunn, is a somewhat obscure book probably due to its polarizing effect with critics, who have called it either brilliant or repulsive and disgusting. Tim Burton has expressed a desire to adapt it for the screen, but whether or not that will ever happen is still up in the air.
The Novel Contains Examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Oly loves her parents, but their treatment of her is up for debate. They make her sleep in the cupboard and make her feel inadequete for not being "special" enough, because her particular deformities aren't so marketable as those of her siblings. Then there's the whole issue of the parents deliberately taking drugs in order to create freakish, deformed children whom they could exploit.
- Body Horror
- Blessed with Suck: Chick, to the extreme.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Oly has Chick impregnate her with Arty's sperm, and gives birth to a daughter, Miranda.
- Bungled Suicide: The Bag Man
- Circus Brat: Oly and her siblings.
- Cult: Arty starts one where the members have to have their own limbs removed in order to make themselves into freaks.
- The Empath: Chick is so empathic that he feels the pain of everything around him, even things that aren't even alive, to the point where he cannot eat meat and gets physically sick when another living thing is harmed.
- The Grotesque
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Subverted, as Oly and her siblings take pride in what they are and refer to other people derisively as "norms". Oly wishes she were more special, even.
- Played straight with Miranda, who wants to have her one freak trait, her tail, removed.
- I Love Nuclear Power: Lil takes radioactive isotopes while pregnant with Chick, which is used to explain his psychic powers.
- Kill'Em All
- Mad Scientist: Doctor P.
- Manipulative Bastard: Arty.
- Meaningful Name: Chick's real name is Fortunato, "The Lucky One". It actually turns out to be an ironic name.
- The Messiah: Chick, who loves everything and just wants to be loved.
- Mind Over Matter: Chick can move almost anything with his mind.
- Psychic Powers: Chick.
- Protagonist Albino: Oly can't really be called heroic, per se; she mostly just tries to endure the terrible things she has to deal with, and she ends up killing her daughter's would-be benefactor at the end. However, she is the viewpoint character. She also deals with the issues that albinos have to deal with in real life (poor vision and extreme sensitivity to light).
- Sex by Proxy: An expected side effect of being conjoined.